Sunday July 21, 2024

PTI foreign funding case echoes in Senate

By Mumtaz Alvi
July 30, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The controversy over Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) foreign funding echoed in the Senate on Friday on its opening day of a new session.

The government and the opposition traded charges and blamed each other for economic meltdown and massive pile-up of loans.

Senators from both sides of the aisle also expressed their anguish over the devastation, caused by heavy rains and floods, particularly in Balochistan and loss of human lives. The opposition senators wondered where the prime minister and the chief ministers were during the testing times of flooding.

The issue of transfer of $2.12 million from Wootton Cricket Limited - a company owned by business tycoon and owner of Dubai-based Abraaj Group Arif Naqvi into PTI’s accounts, was raised in the House by Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman, while speaking in response to the speech of Opposition Leader Dr Shahzad Waseem.

She pointed out that the PTI, which promised to break the begging bowl, almost doubled the external debt in just less than four years in power, bringing Pakistan on knees. The minister asserted that the PTI kept on talking about the ‘regime change plot’, which was, in fact, itself a conspiracy against Pakistan and people were bearing the brunt of its policies.

Leader of the House Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar, who is law minister, alleged that international hotel Lahore’s land valuing Rs500 million per kanal had been sold by the PTI for Rs120 million and that he could say this on oath. He claimed that 10 corruption scams of the previous PTI government had so far been unearthed.

However, he urged the opposition and the treasury to discuss flooding and the devastation caused by it, as the entire nation was looking towards the House.

Earlier, the opposition leader accused the government of violating Article 73 of the Constitution by failing to lay before the House the real budget document. He explained a day after the Senate was prorogued on June 23, the real budget with super tax and other taxes of billions of rupees under the fresh dictates of IMF had been unveiled and passed in the National Assembly.

He also criticised the government for bulldozing NAB and the Elections Act amendment bills in the House. While squarely holding the government responsible for the economic mess, he said the people had given their verdict against the government in the recently held by-election.

He criticised the government for lifting ban on import of 35 luxury items. He reiterated that the solution to the issues lied in holding of early elections.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, taking part in the debate on the situation of floods in the country, flayed the indifferent behaviour of the federal and provincial governments as well institutions concerned to cope with the devastating heavy rains, followed by floods in different parts of the country.

The JI legislator questioned whether the premier had visited the flood-affected areas including Karachi, which had sunk? He went to question the utility of flood controls fund and called for audit of funding of the related bodies. “This is a wakeup call for the governments to save the settlements from floods and divert funds for this purpose,” he said.

He said the performance of federal National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and provincial disaster management authorities (PDMAs) was abysmal.

Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar criticised the political class and said that the floods had ruined Balochistan, parts of Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, but politicians were busy in slinging mud on one another.

PTI Senator Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry endorsed viewpoint of his colleagues and said the country had plunged into floods while rulers were enjoying power. He criticised the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and said that Karachi had sunk and the ruling the party was least concerned about the situation, which had been ruling the province for 14 years.

During the question hour, the House was informed that the National Database and Registration Authority had a total of 19,161 working staff and 1,109 (5.78 %) were from the armed forces.

They included 49 officers (retired personnel): nine director generals, 20 directors and 15 deputy directors, 247 drivers and 621 security guards.

In a written reply, Minister for Interior Rana Sanullah said that there were a total of 2,943 trans-genders registered with Nadra, including 870 female eunuchs, 191 khunsa-e-mushkil and 1,882 male eunuchs. Likewise, 1,166 had applied between June 2018 and February 2022 and out of these, 1,148 were issued/ processed for registration. The House will now resume Monday afternoon.